mission shaped church
be planted even across the boundaries of parishes, deaneries and
Despite problems at that time with cross boundary plants, the 1994 report
was positive about church planting as part of being Anglican in mission.
The working party believes that church planting is not an erosion of
the parish principle of mission in the Church of England. It is a
supplementary strategy that enhances the essential thrust of the
At the time people were unsure whether planting represented opportunity or
danger. Thus the word `supplementary' is worth comment. A Grove booklet
commentary on the Report noted:
Here is tacit admission that church planting is not simply a new option
in mission; it has begun to affect Anglican identity and our doctrine of
the Church. To `supplement' is to add something different, or to insert
something missing. To add in this way is to change. Planting is not
simply creating more of the same churches; it focuses recognition of
larger changes in the Church of England and is a response to them.
parish and network are both valid
The first chapter of Breaking New Ground marks a shift in thought. Entitled
`Church planting opportunity or danger?' it reflects the 1991 context.
The subtitle, `A vision of Church: territory, neighbourhood and network',
speaks relevantly to today's understanding of an Anglicanism that needs
to work with each of these three dimensions. It moves on our thinking
without destroying former ways of working, and accepts the need to add
to those understandings of the past.
The 1994 report maintains the traditional Anglican value of territory,
delivered through the parish system. It develops the theme that, in the
twentieth century, Anglicanism has been forced to accept the reality of
neighbourhood. Since the industrial revolution this has not always been
physically the same as `parish', and so the report drew attention to
`population movements . . . [making some parish boundaries] . . .
The third factor at work, network, is formed socially and culturally, not by
physical area. This, too, is recommended to be part of our national and
local mission. Mission seeks to relate to society as it is and to people as
they are, rather than expecting people to conform themselves to `our' way